It’s a new week and we all know what that means — It’s time for 3 new musical acts who will collect in our Cactus lounge at The Standard Hollywood to have a little personal jam with a few hungry music-philes. This Wednesday introduces a new crop of fresh talent you do not want to miss.
(Listen to Neal Casal here)
Neal Casal’s debut record, Fade Away Diamond Time was released in 1995 to muchcritical acclaim. Produced by Jim Scott (Wilco, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash), the album introduced the intimate songwriting and lyrical guitar work that would become the foundation of his career. In between recording and touring with other artists such as Beachwood Sparks, James Iha, Lucinda Williams, Sheryl Crow, Mark Olson, and Rufus Wainwright, Casal managed to record multiple solo releases, including 1996’s Rain, Wind, and Speed and 1998’s Basement Dreams. Casal is also known as the lead guitarist of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, with whom he recorded three albums: Easy Tiger (which reached #7 on the Billboard chart), Follow the Lights, and Cardinology. His time in the band led to working with such luminaries as Willie Nelson and Phil Lesh and allowed another talent to be revealed when he released his first photography collection, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals: A View of Other Windows.
After the Cardinals went on hiatus in 2009, Casal moved his home base from New York to Southern California, where he has worked on a variety of projects. He released the self-produced solo effort Roots & Wings, Connections—the third album by his rock-and-roll band Hazy Malaze—and worked as a technical advisor on the upcoming Gwyneth Paltrow film Country Strong, in which he also appears. Currently, Casal is finishing up his tenth solo record with noted producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, Pernice Brothers, Gary Louris). While listeners will recognize Casal’s strong yet understated vocals, his acoustic-driven melodies have been amplified by complex sonic layers, resulting in a new, expansive sound that is the culmination of this prolific songwriter’s multifaceted catalog.
(Listen to Michelle Vidal here)
Michelle Vidal is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter who comes from an eclectic background including theatre, film, and astrobiology. Having released an EP in 2009 with the folk ensemble Eagle Winged Palace, she then released a full length LP in 2010 entitled Where We’re Coming From (where she is credited as songwriter, performer, and co-producer). She met up with Linda Perhacs in October 2009, and began performing with her at the REDCAT Theatre, where she currently records and performs. Lending her voice and finger picking guitar skills over the past few years to many bands including Crooked Cowboy Gypsy Orchestra, the Whispering Pines, and The Messes, today she continues to do vocal session work and live performances.
Michelle is now recording her first solo album. The record is an eclectic blend of songs (from a Spanish tale of a wandering horse with Cossack and Flamenco rhythms to a smoky French café piano tune about a young girl struck by love). Her acoustic performances combine elements of gospel, soul, country, folk, and echoes of epic poems and tales, taking influence from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt, Nick Cave, and Mahalia Jackson, and our friend, nature.
(Listen to Susan James here)
Singer, songwriter and musician Susan James has received critical acclaim, and earned great accomplishments and successes in her solo career. She tours nationally and has appeared with artists such as Lindsey Buckingham, Bob Weir, Ratdog, Richard Buckner, Son Volt, Rufus Wainright, Billy Bragg, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Daniel Lanois and others. In 2010, emerging from a self-imposed hiatus, Susan returns by performing her own original music and working on a new album, to be released in January 2011. James has been in the studio with her old friends, impressive musicians Paul Lacques (I See Hawk in L.A., Double Naught Spycar), Shawn Nourse (I See Hawks in L.A.) and veteran musician Paul Marshall (Strawberry Alarmclock, I See Hawks in L.A.).
Others participating in the sessions include fiddler extraordinaire Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers), keyboardist Danny McGough (Shivaree), and engineer/producer Fulton Dingley. Los Angeles Times wrote: “In her 45-minute opening set, James shows that she is already a master at exploring the emotional and sonic possibilities of the minimalist format of voice and acoustic guitar… James’ long blond hair and folk-based songs have caused her to be compared to Joni Mitchell. The inventiveness of her eight song set, however, showed that James is perhaps most like Mitchell because she is like no one else.”
What is Desert Nights?
Desert Nights is a weekly gathering at The Standard, Hollywood. Every Wednesday, we curate 3 musical acts on the rise to perform a special acoustic set in our hotel lounge. The vibe is warm and intimate, evoking an impromptu jam in a musician’s living room. Also, expect 2 clever cover songs delivered by each performer. The sets begins at 7:30 pm in the Cactus Lounge (thus the title of the evening, Desert Nights).